This week, instead of limiting the Power Rankings to ten shows, I thought I’d include everything I watch, save for “The Daily Show,” Bill Maher, and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
In rerun: “Raising Hope,” “Parenthood.”
23. Harry’s Law: I suffered through ten episodes, which is nine-and-a-half more than this show deserved. The David Kelley magic is gone. It was still there at the end of “Boston Legal” but it’s left, which doesn’t bode well for “Wonder Woman” next season. I’ve seen all these “Harry’s Law” stories played out a half a dozen times with other characters in other Kelley TV shows, including this week’s episode involving a transgendered man. The speechifying is killing me. I’m sorry, Nate Corddry. I really tried. But I’m done now.
22. Fairly Legal: I made it through the entire first season, and that’s all I’m going to say about “Fairly Legal,” except that I probably won’t watch the second season, no matter how beautiful Sarah Shahi is.
21. Castle: “Castle” came on strong during February, but this episode was fairly lackluster, despite the guest star power (Corbin Bernson, Jane Seymour, and Steve from “Sex and the City.”) A predictable, banal murder mystery.
20. Mad Love I don’t really like this sitcom very much, but I like Taylor Labine, Judy Greer, and Sarah Chalke too much to quit it. Jason Biggs is like a giant blank space. And on this week’s episode, I’m fairly certain his brother was on it, playing the man that Judy Greer’s character was seeing. Believe it or not, there is someone less charismatic than Jason.
19. Survivor: You know, I kind of like the Jesus Kid, Matt, who keeps winning on Redemption Island. I’m going to feel awful when he sweeps the challenges, only to lose the last one and fail to get his redemption. Otherwise, it’s the Boston Rob show. Has anyone notice that the crazy guy has a question mark next to his occupation now: “Former Federal Marshal?”
18. Mr. Sunshine: Not a good show, but very watchable thanks to Matthew Perry, Andrea Enders and, especially, Allison Janney.
17. The Amazing Race: This show does a great job of editing, particularly in its ability to extract some sympathy for teams I can’t stand until their elimination episodes. I didn’t like the deaf guy and his mom (and I felt a little guilty about it). They were consistently whiny. But I did feel bad for the deaf kid during the drinking competition. Still, Flight Time and Big Easy are the team I pull for this season.
16. Breakout Kings: Still not a great show, but Jimmi Simpson makes it very entertaining, and they do a fantastic job each week with the villains, especially the last two, including last night’s alleged child pedophile, Derek Phillips (“FNLs’” Billy Riggins, in what I believe was the first time I’ve ever seen him outside of “Friday Night Lights.”)
15. Chuck: I was so very close to finally giving up on “Chuck,” but they hit me with a muuurder mystery. I’m a sucker for muuurder mysteries. And boom boxes that go BOOM. And there was nothing in this episode about Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. I actually enjoyed a “Chuck” for the first time in months.
14. Traffic Light: Of all the bland couple sitcoms currently airing, this is the one I like the best. There’s a certain amount of gendered humor, but I really like the female cast members on this show. It’s cute, damnit. And there’s a few good turns of phrase in each episode.
13. Fringe: Why can’t I quit you? I tried, damnit. I even wrote about it. But when I woke up on Saturday morning and saw “Fringe” waiting on my DVR, I couldn’t resist. And now I’m hooked again. I hate you, JJ Abrams.
12. Parks and Recreation: Not an amazing episode, but “P&R,” like “Community” and “30 Rock” are allowed weeks off.
11. 30 Rock: Loved the Aaron Sorkin walk-on, and as is often the case with “30 Rock,” the one-liners were better than the sum of its parts.
10. Lights Out: Why don’t they box more, damnit! It’s hard to quibble too much with an episode featuring David Morse, and a nice little twist, but this is why there aren’t any boxing shows on TV: There’s too much space to fill until the big championship.
9. Top Chef: Man, I didn’t like see Antonia go. I cannot stand Mike, which is probably why he’s still there (all things cooking equal). It doesn’t matter, though: The crowning of Richard Blais is a foregone conclusion, as should it be.
8. Archer: I watched it. OK. And I liked it, even if, like a lot of animated shows, it mistakes the creative use of profanity for wit (but don’t we all?). I might have liked it even more had it not been shoved down my throat by a select few readers who have been very smug about it, but it was funny. And I will watch it again. Begrudging thanks.
7. Modern Family: Delightful, as always. Really dug the dinner scenes.
6. How I Met Your Mother: Barney finally meets his father (John Lithgow) and he’s a lame suburban Dad. And he doesn’t even kill people! Plus, the gang finally takes the kid gloves off with Marshall, ending the moratorium no making fun of him after his Dad died.
5. Justified: Wicked! It’s a cable show, so you know bad things can happen, but it’s a basic cable show, so you knew Natalie Zea wouldn’t go to the clink, but that bomb threat scene was seriously tense. And now we know how Boyd is going to get tied into the overall serial arc with the Bennets.
4. The Good Wife: What began as a seemingly slow episode slowly evolved into one nasty little divorce case with huge implications and a bombshell that Blake dropped on Kalinda that will shape the rest of the season. The bombshell was actually hinted at early in season one, but this was the first time it was reintroduced. April is going to be a great month for this show.
3. Community: I really liked what Rob P said about Abed in this week’s “Community,” and the fact that so much can be read into his character speaks volumes about the depth of “Community”:
I do think Abed has a lot of internal pain, but I don’t think it makes him unhappy. He seems to be the best at being able to understand and compartmentalize his issues, work through them on his own, better than the rest of the study group. It’s because he’s an observer, and he when he’s alone, the only person to observe is himself. So, he knows his “character” (re: himself) better than his friends do theirs, and he’s basically okay with who he observes himself being. The problem is, he’s okay with who he observes everyone being. He just accepts that people are who they are, which sounds like a noble sentiment, but is incredibly defeatist and cynical. He doesn’t really think anyone needs to change, even if he understands why they might feel the opposite. But they all need to better themselves to some degree. I think it’s those moments where Abed may realize that he, too, can stand to change, that he reveals the most of his pain. But, even then, it’s vague and shrouded in pop culture.
2. Chicago Code: Brilliant acting, dense plotlines, doses of humor, compelling characters, great music, and the one of the best villains on television. This is the best show on television you’re not watching, and this week, they managed to make us feel sorry for a murdering drug kingpin. Shawn Ryan is goddamn magic. I also encourage you to check out Dave Chen’s massive interview with Shawn Ryan.
1. The Office: I wasn’t sure “The Office” would ever get back into the top five of the Power Rankings, much less the top spot. But this week, the writers recaptured that Jim and Pam magic with Michael and Holly, and the two subplots — the “Dallas” board game, and Jim’s Magic Legumes — were excellent complements to what I thought was a proposal perfectly suited to Michael and Holly. Sweet and goofy as all hell.